Can Cats Eat Corn? Is It Harmful For Your Kitty?
In many Native American tribes, corn (also known as maize) symbolizes birth, fertility and life itself. With squash and beans, it was one of The Three Sisters. It is a sacred gift from a mother goddess in several tribes. In the Cherokee wedding ceremony, the bride carries an armload of corn ears instead of flowers.
Cornmeal is an import part of the Hopi wedding ceremony. In many parts of the world, the production of corn (Zea mays) surpasses the production of rice or wheat. It is commonly used as animal feed- for horses and cows. It is a staple of life for many, but not everyone.
Can cats eat corn? Well, if your cat eats commercial dry cat food, she probably already does. But should she? Is corn good for your cat? Is corn bad for cats? What about popcorn? For that matter, should your kitty eat other corn based products? Comedian Chris Rock once said “Cornbread…ain’t nothing wrong with that!” But could it be wrong for your kitty?
Can Cats Eat Corn?
As stated before, not only can cats have corn, but it is an ingredient in many commercial cat foods…as a filler. More on this later. Corn is not dangerous for your feline, but should only be eaten in moderation. While corn does have a fair amount of protein at four grams to the cup, it is plant based rather than animal based and thus not the appropriate protein source for your cat. It is severely lacking in the amino acids she needs.
You might like corn on the cob with butter and salt, or lemon juice if you’re trying to cut calories and sodium. Your feline does not need any butter or salt. Corn chips are loaded in salt and other seasonings (such as garlic or onion powder) that your cat does not need in any amount. Your cat, unlike a certain Chihuahua, does not ‘quiero Taco Bell’. Taco shells and tortillas should not be fed to cats.
These foods are mostly carbs and just are not very healthy, even without the spicy seasonings that would make your kitty sick. It is the same with cornbread. The great Texan invention of the corndog may seem a tempting treat for your cat, but not only is the breading useless carbs but processed sausage meat is not good for her. Fried kennels like Corn Nuts are the worst thing you can give a feline, being full of fat and sodium. Do not let your cat munch on husks as they can cause tummy trouble.
Now let’s say you like to chow down on popcorn while watching TV and your cat comes begging. Or you put a popcorn garland on your Christmas tree and Kitty decided she wanted a nibble. Plain popcorn is not harmful, but butter, salt and other additives are. Also, do not let your kitty chew on unpopped kernels as this can damage her teeth or present a choking hazard.
Corn Allergy in Cats
According to various studies, corn is the most common food to trigger allergic reactions in cats. Because of this, you need to use the utmost of caution when feeding your feline companion corn or anything that contains it. The recommended action is to only give your cat a minute serving of corn and then wait to observe if your cat shows any symptoms of a food allergy.
The most usual allergic reaction to corn would be continuous scratching of the skin. Other common symptoms would include sneezing, vomiting, coughing, wheezing and diarrhea. If you notice your feline has any of these symptoms after eating this food you should not give her any.
Corn in Cat Food
If corn, corn meal or corn gluten is among the first of the ingredients in your cat’s food, then the food is of very low quality. Felines are obligate carnivores who need to get their protein from animal sources. While corn is not necessarily harmful to cats, she really needs a diet based in meats.
Many of the low end cat food companies use corn in cat food because corn is much less inexpensive than animal muscle meat. By cutting corners using corn instead of animal muscle meat, the companies are capable of selling the end product at a cheaper price than competitors who will not use cheap fillers like corn.
Cats are also completely incapable of producing most of the essential amino acids and vitamins within their own bodies so they have the need to procure them from the food they eat. However, corn and other grains simply cannot provide your kitty with all of the essential amino acids. And so, that is why your cat’s food should always be filled with plenty of animal protein.
While it is not bad for your kitty to have a little bit of it every now and then it should only be in moderation. Your cat’s food should be rich in animal protein. While this plant by itself is not exactly toxic for felines, many of the seasonings and flavorings that come on corn and corn products are very bad for cats. Many cats are allergic to corn and should not have any at all. As always, discuss with your veterinarian before making any drastic changes to your cat’s diet.
- A Review of Feline Nutrition S. Kantorosinski Iowa State University W. B. Morrison Purdue University
- Corn at britannica.com
- Feeding Your Cat at Cornell Feline Health Center
- What every pet owner should know about food allergies by Clinical Nutrition Team JANUARY 27, 2017 at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University
- Grain Allergy in Cats at wagwalking.com by Dr. Callum Turner, DVM